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EWSD Moving to Fully In-Person for PreK-5

September 22, 2020

Dear PreK-5 Families, 


As you know, our schools play a unique and critical role in our communities. This was the reason we made reopening this fall a top priority. We have followed the Vermont Agency for Education and the Vermont Health Department guidance for opening our schools in a safe and healthy manner. The reason we opened using a hybrid model was to decrease the class sizes so that we could meet the six-foot distancing protocol and to practice the other health and safety measures that we implemented in PreK-12. Our staff have worked hard to make our opening a success. 


Before the start of the school year, there was a robust and growing body of evidence strongly indicating that children younger than 10 are far less likely to transmit COVID-19 to other children or adults. Children of all ages are at a lower risk for acquiring infection than adults, and when infected, are also at far lower risk for developing severe illness. For these reasons, the Vermont Agency of Education and the Department of Health recommend full-time in-person learning as soon as practical, especially for children in PreK through grade 5. They decreased the social distancing guidance for this age group from six feet to three feet.  


Following the latest guidance, the Champlain Valley Regional Superintendent Association determined benchmarks that need to be in place for PreK-5 students to be fully in person. The benchmarks are: 


  • Adequate staffing
  • Well established practices and routines 
  • And the Vermont Health Department suggests that our infection rates are safe for us to bring more students back


As superintendents, we know that this next phase for us will look different across districts due to different variables and situations.  


In the EWSD, we feel strongly that we are ready to begin to phase in full in-person instruction, five days a week, for our K-5 beginning the week of October 5.  


K-5 Phasing In Plan for the Week of October 5 (for students NOT taking part in the Virtual Academy):  


  • Monday, October 5 - All K-3 students (at Essex Elementary, Hiawatha, Summit, Westford, and Founders) will attend school in person (fourth and fifth graders in Cohort A will also attend school)
  • Tuesday, October 6 - All K-4 students will attend school in person (fifth graders in Cohort A will also attend school)
  • Wednesday, October 7 - All K-5 students will attend school in person 
  • Thursday, October 8 - All K-5 students will attend school in person (Evening parent conferences postponed)
  • Friday, October 9 - NO SCHOOL (Parent conferences postponed - teachers will use this day in the transition from hybrid to fully in-person instruction)


On Wednesdays, we will have a one-hour early release for our PK-5 students. Over the past few years, this had taken place on Tuesdays. We are still committed to aligning our work across the District on equity, social and emotional learning, and a viable curriculum. This time that the teachers have together is invaluable.  


Bus schedules will be re-created and sent out to families. If you are capable of doing so during COVID, we will continue to encourage you to transport your children to and from school. The buses will also continue with the protocols that they have established during COVID. Students will be riding with students from different EWSD schools. Contact tracing will be implemented, as social distancing can be difficult to maintain on a bus. 


PK-5 parent conferences will be postponed at this time, but we will be working on updating the calendar to set a new date. This is also a discussion we are having for grades 6-12 and will have more information for families soon.


In moving to K-5 in-person instruction five days a week, we anticipate that some families may want to move to fully remote. At this time, with our enrollment, we do not have the capacity to add more students to the K-8 Virtual Academy. During the next few days though, we will be assessing the academy. Virtual Academy students will have the option to move to in-person instruction if they choose.   


Diana Smith, the EWSD COVID Coordinator, and I have arranged for a Zoom meeting to answer your questions around the health and safety of bringing our youngest learners back into the buildings. We are lucky that we have three members from the Vermont Department of Health able to join a Zoom on Wednesday, September 30 from 6-7 p.m. If you can not attend, we will share the recording. You will find a Zoom invitation at the bottom of this message.  


At this time, grades 6-12 will continue to use the hybrid model. The social distancing guidelines for these age groups still remain at six feet. 


This PreK-5 plan is subject to change if between now and October 5 we do not meet the three benchmarks I mentioned above.


Please let me know if you have any questions.  Feel free to email me at:


With gratitude,


Beth Cobb
EWSD Superintendent

For more information on the 2020-2021 school year, please visit:


EWSD PK-5 Parent Meeting with the Vermont Health Department

Date/Time: Sep 30, 2020, 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time (US and Canada)


Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 930 2919 0306

Passcode: 878047


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